The best books about lesser-known medieval queens and noblewomen

Why am I passionate about this?

Since early childhood I have had a passion for medieval times. I can remember climbing my first castle keep at 4. I became particularly interested in lesser-known medieval queens and noblewomen when I moved to Amesbury in Wiltshire—and found out that Eleanor of Provence, wife of Henry III, was buried somewhere in the grounds of the nearby rest home, her grave lost since the Reformation. I wrote a novel on her life which became more successful than I could have ever imagined, and now I am a full-time author writing further novels about medieval women, as well as the Wars of the Roses…and Stonehenge.


I wrote...

Dangereuse

By J.P. Reedman,

Book cover of Dangereuse

What is my book about?

Red-haired, wild, and opinionated, Dangereuse de l'Isle Bouchard lives a life of marital dullness with Viscount Aimery. But then she meets his liege lord, William the Troubadour, a former Crusader whose court is full of music, merriment, and bawdiness. Everything Dangereuse craves. Dangereuse embarks on a secret affair with William, and he carries her off in a staged abduction.

With William's angry son and two former wives bent on revenge, life for the lovers is never dull. Dangereuse acts as peacemaker, and arranges a marriage between William's son and her daughter Aenor from her union with Aimery. From this arrangement is born the most famous woman in medieval history, a woman cast in her grandmother's mold—the indomitable Eleanor of Aquitaine.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Walking Among Lions

J.P. Reedman Why did I love this book?

Walking Among Lions deals with not only a very obscure female figure but a medieval time frame, the reign of Richard II, that is not as often used in fiction as perhaps the 14th century or the time of Lionheart and King John. Constance is from a family that would become very famous the next century—the House of York. Her father is Edmund, son of Edward III—great-grandfather of Edward IV and Richard III. This book, part 1 of a series yet to be published, tells the story of her youth and early time at court, setting the scene for high and dangerous drama. It is beautifully written and packed with fine, accurate historical detail.

By Brian Wainwright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Walking Among Lions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Constance of York, a cousin of King Richard II, is inducted into the Order of the Garter aged 10. High in the favour of the King and Queen, she is soon summoned to the court to attend Anne of Bohemia. However, not only is England in danger of a French invasion. but vicious civil strife is about to break out. Constance is at hand to witness to it all.


Book cover of The Virgin Widow

J.P. Reedman Why did I love this book?

The Virgin Widow is a novel of one of England’s lesser-known Queens, Anne Neville, the wife of Richard III. Before she married Richard, however, she was briefly wed to Edward of Westminster, the Lancastrian heir, who was killed at the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. This book chronicles Anne’s early life and her relationship with her father, the famous Warwick the Kingmaker, and then with the two young men she would marry. Anne O’Brien writes many interesting and engaging novels about medieval women.

By Anne O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Virgin Widow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Sunday Times Bestseller England's Forgotten Queens

'O'Brien cleverly intertwines the personal and political in this enjoyable, gripping tale.'
-The Times

'I was a penniless, landless petitioner, my Neville blood a curse, my future dependent on the charity of those who despised me...'

Anne Neville is the heiress and daughter of the greatest powerbroker in the land, Warwick the Kingmaker. Trapped in a deadly tangle of political intrigue, she is a pawn in an uncertain game, used by the houses of Neville, York and Lancaster alike.

In England's glittering, treacherous court, not all wish to see the Nevilles raised high.…


Book cover of Katherine

J.P. Reedman Why did I love this book?

This is a classical historical fiction novel that never grows old. It is about Katherine Swynford, daughter of a minor knight, who captures the attention of the powerful and determined John of Gaunt, son of Edward III. She becomes his long-term mistress and has many children with him, but at one point, under pressure they part. However, he goes back to her and does something that rarely happened with royal mistresses of the time—he married her. Their children, surnamed Beaufort, were legitimised and became the ancestors of both the Yorkist Kings and the Tudor dynasty.

By Anya Seton,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Katherine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Exhilarating, exuberant, and rich," Katherine is an epic novel of a love affair that changed history—that of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of most of the British royal family (Austin Chronicle).

Set in the vibrant fourteenth century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story features knights fighting in battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenets—Edward III, the Black Prince, and Richard II—who rule despotically over a court rotten with intrigue. Within this era of danger and romance, John of Gaunt, the king’s son, falls passionately in love with the already-married Katherine.…


Book cover of Isabella: Braveheart of France

J.P. Reedman Why did I love this book?

Isabella is by prolific novelist, Colin Falconer who writes in many genres and covers many eras from ancient times through medieval to modern. Isabella has been the subject of quite a few novels but I enjoyed this one the most, owing to an engaging writing style that draws the reader along. Isabella also seems very human—not the harpy she is often made out to be in many fictional accounts. She is often called a ‘she-wolf’, an insulting term often used for medieval women who do things out of the ordinary, but Falconer’s book makes her more human, even if one cannot always agree with her decisions.

By Colin Falconer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Isabella as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.

When Princess Isabella is offered as bride to King Edward of England, for her it's love at first sight. But her dashing husband has a secret, one that threatens to tear their marriage-and England-apart. As Isabella navigates the deadly maelstrom of Edward's court, her cleverness and grace allow her to subvert Edward's ill-advised plans and gain influence. But soon the young queen is faced with an impossible choice, taking a breathtaking gamble that will forever change the course of history.

In the tradition of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick,…


Book cover of Heroines of the Medieval World

J.P. Reedman Why did I love this book?

Sharon Bennett Connolly’s book covers important women who lived throughout the Middle Ages, including many who are very little known. The style is easy to read and never dry, and leaves you eager to research these women more. Included are Nicholaa, a woman Sheriff and Constable, and Maude who spoke out against ‘bad King John’ and paid with her life. Some of the stories almost feel like fiction they are so dramatic…but all are true!

By Sharon Bennett Connolly,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Heroines of the Medieval World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

These are the stories of women, famous, infamous and unknown, who shaped the course of medieval history. The lives and actions of medieval women were restricted by the men who ruled the homes, countries and world they lived in. It was men who fought wars, made laws and dictated religious doctrine. It was men who were taught to read, trained to rule and expected to fight. Today, it is easy to think that all women from this era were downtrodden and obedient housewives, whose sole purpose was to give birth to children (preferably boys) and serve their husbands. Heroines of…


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Acquaintance

By Jeff Stookey,

Book cover of Acquaintance

Jeff Stookey Author Of Dangerous Medicine

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Historical fiction writer Gay male Reader History buff Curious human

Jeff's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

As a young doctor, Carl Holman has experienced the horrors of World War I and the death of his lover, a fellow officer. Back home after the War, he befriends a young jazz musician who he hopes will become a companion he can share his life with. But this is Oregon: the Ku Klux Klan is gaining influence, homosexual acts are illegal, and such a relationship will jeopardize Carl’s promising medical career.

Musician Jimmy Harper has his own dreams for the future and his own obstacles to overcome before he will allow himself to accept Carl’s love. More than a gay love story, Acquaintance is a deep dive into gay and lesbian history based on extensive period research of the 1920s.

Acquaintance

By Jeff Stookey,

What is this book about?

As a young surgeon, Carl Holman has experienced the horrors of World War I and the loss of his lover, a fellow officer. Back home after the war, he befriends a young jazz musician who he hopes will become a companion he can share his life with. But this is Oregon: the Ku Klux Klan is gaining influence, homosexual acts are illegal, and such a relationship will jeopardize Carl’s promising medical career. Musician Jimmy Harper has his own dreams for the future and his own obstacles to overcome before he will allow himself to accept Carl’s love.
Acquaintance is a…


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Interested in the Middle Ages, the Wars of the Roses, and London?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Middle Ages, the Wars of the Roses, and London.

The Middle Ages Explore 406 books about the Middle Ages
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